WHITEFISH – It’s no secret that we live in an era of technology and social media, one in which everyone needs a cell phone to communicate. But sometimes too much technology can be a bad thing.

“Medical evidence, though, is mounting that social media in particular, if it’s not limited, has a lot of negative impacts on mental health, in particular [for] teenagers,” Jason Cohen, North Valley Hospital chief medical officer,  told MTN News.

Cohen says that studies show an average person spends two to four hours on a phone or computer daily.

While humans are social creatures — and technology brings us together — excess use can result in trouble sleeping, body image issues, anxiety, and depression.

Cohen says a study out of the University of Pennsylvania found undergrads that limited their technology to 30 minutes daily reported less depression and anxiety than those using technology all day.

Cohen says the science behind why social media is so addictive shows the brain uses dopamine and acts on the positive reinforcement/reward system.

“Our brains have developed to respond to positive social interactions so when someone smiles at you, you get a little shot of dopamine,” he explained.

“The Instagrams, Snapchats and Facebook are basically taking advantage of that same evolutionary pathway. So every time you get a like or something, you’re getting that same shot of dopamine, but it’s encouraging a behavior that’s maladaptive,” Cohen added.

While limiting technology use is difficult, there is a way to limit your technology use. Cohen suggests setting aside specific times during the day to check your phone — otherwise, leave your phone alone.

-Reported by Maren Siu/MTN News

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